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Book cover for When You Can Swim, by Jack Wong

When You Can Swim

By Jack Wong

Scholastic Canada

“A vibrant ode to swimming where joy is yours for the taking as soon as you jump in, When You Can Swim transforms fear into a rushing wave of eager anticipation. The sumptuous use of colour and texture brings water to life in an array of settings, depicting it as a central character in a wondrous celebration of the breadth of a child’s abilities. It especially reaches out to those who have historically been excluded from learning to swim.”

—Peer assessment committee: Mahak Jain, Lee Edward Födi and Marianne Ferrer


In this exploration of what it truly means to swim, expansive vignettes introduce sandpipers, tannin-soaked lakes and the feeling of a small waterfall on sun-soaked shoulders. But what about those who are afraid of the water’s mysterious ways and resist learning to swim? Painting a compelling picture of the many joys and surprises that the water holds, artist and author Jack Wong has delivered an empowering, poetic journey that invites children to discover their confidence within to receive the warmth and wonder of the natural world.

Jack Wong smiles into the camera.


Jack Wong is a writer and illustrator born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2010, he left behind a life as a bridge engineer to pursue his Bachelor of Fine Arts at NSCAD University in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia; he has called the east coast home ever since. Working as a children’s author and illustrator, Jack seeks to share his winding journey with young readers so that they may embrace the unique amalgams of experiences that make up their own lives.

Photo: Nicola Davison

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